Foreign Affairs Council
The Foreign Affairs Council is responsible for the EU's external action, covering a wide range of issues from foreign policy and defence to trade, development cooperation and humanitarian aid. It defines and implements the EU's foreign and security policy, which is based on the guidelines set by the European Council.
The FAC's main task, together with the European Commission and assisted by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is to ensure the unity, consistency and effectiveness of the EU's external action.
The High Representative and the member states may submit proposals to the FAC in the area of Common Foreign and Security Policy. The European Commission may also submit joint proposals with the High Representative in the area of Common Foreign and Security Policy.
How does the Foreign Affairs Council work?
The Foreign Affairs Council is composed of the foreign ministers from all EU member states. Depending on the agenda, the Council also brings together:
- defence ministers (Common Security and Defence Policy)
- development ministers (development cooperation)
- trade ministers (common commercial policy)
Meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council are chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, currently Catherine Ashton.
However, when the Foreign Affairs Council discusses common commercial policy issues, it is presided by the representative of the EU member state holding the six-monthly rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.
The High Representative is assisted by the European External Action Service (EEAS).
The Foreign Affairs council meets once a month.